Decades of garden articles, 8 years of weekly garden columns in The New York Times and a co-starring role in the book and TV series The 3000 Mile Garden mean I’m best known as a garden writer, someone lucky enough to call talking about plants her work.
True. But only half of the story. The other half starts with my first real job – as one of the opening chefs at Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California.
Less than two years later, I joined the great hippie migration of the early 1970’s and moved to rural Maine, where making a living meant catering, consulting, being a guest chef and – finally! – saying “thanks but no thanks, eager backers, I don’t want a restaurant. It’s more fun to write about food.”
And write and write and write: food and cooking articles for publications as diverse as House and Garden, Country Journal and The New York Times Magazine; a syndicated column, Good Food, that ran for 20 years in newspapers from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and two cookbooks: Reading Between the Recipes, aka The New England Epicure, and The Modern Country Cook.
Meanwhile the gardens kept expanding, from vegetables and herbs to really a lot of vegetables and herbs, also flowers and fruit and shrubs and trees. Next step? Writing about it, for Metropolitan Home, for the Times, and for Yankee, where as a Senior Editor I spent 7 years overseeing articles on everything domestic from food and gardens to antiques and designer furniture.
All this continues on the blog, where food and garden share the billing, design appears from time to time, and so does my husband, Bill Bakaitis, a bow-hunter, beekeeper, sitar player and expert mycologist. He grew up on a farm near Pittsburgh. I grew up on a farm near Philadelphia. We are still growing, together, and the gardens that inspire me daily would be mighty different without him.